“I love how this book centers on a kid who detests Meaningful Social Interaction. Ware skips rec camp and with Jolene creates a secret castle and papaya garden. What at first is a secret world turns into a fight in the real world: a fight for birds and to save the sanctuary. The details of building the secret world parallel the building of trust between Jolene and Ware. A lyrical, well-constructed story destined to become a classic.”
— Jennifer Kraar, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA
From the author of the highly acclaimed, New York Times bestselling novel Pax comes a gorgeous and moving middle grade novel that is an ode to introverts, dreamers, and misfits everywhere.
Ware can’t wait to spend summer “off in his own world”—dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called “normal” kids do.
On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next to the camp. Soon he starts skipping Rec, creating a castle-like space of his own in the church lot.
Jolene scoffs, calling him a dreamer—he doesn’t live in the “real world” like she does. As different as Ware and Jolene are, though, they have one thing in common: for them, the lot is a refuge.
But when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware looks to the knights’ Code of Chivalry: Thou shalt do battle against unfairness wherever faced with it. Thou shalt be always the champion of the Right and Good—and vows to save the lot.
But what does a hero look like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do?
Sara Pennypacker is the author of the New York Times bestselling Pax and Pax, Journey Home; the award-winning Clementine series and its spinoff series, Waylon; and the acclaimed novels Summer of the Gypsy Moths and Here in the Real World. She divides her time between Cape Cod, MA, and Florida. You can visit her online at sarapennypacker.com.
“Pennypacker’s humane tale is written with straightforward grace and populated with exquisitely layered characters; vulnerable, imaginative Ware’s journey to self-acceptance is particularly skillfully rendered.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This story gently rejoices in two charismatic young people whose dedication and compassion illustrate what it means to be heroes in the real world.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
"Pennypacker tells a human story of growth and transformation. Smooth prose and short chapters make for a compulsively readable tale, fit for middle-graders in the process of discovering themselves." — Booklist
“This sweet, sensitive book shines a light on the introverts and misfits.” — School Library Journal